Adventures in Machine Learning

Python Break Statement: Proper Usage and Fixes for Common Errors

The Importance of Properly Using the Python Break Statement

As a beginner, navigating programming in Python can be a daunting task. Writing Python code involves understanding different elements such as variables, loops, functions, as well as statements.


break statement is one such statement that any Python programmer must be familiar with, as it plays a crucial role in code flow control. However, it is essential to use the

break statement properly to prevent errors.

In this article, we will discuss the

break statement in Python and how to use it correctly. We will also dive into common errors that arise when you misuse the

break statement and recommend how to fix them.

What is the Python Break Statement? In Python, the

break statement is used to halt the execution of a loop.

When the

break statement is encountered in a loop, the loop terminates immediately, and the other statements in the code outside the loop are executed. The

break statement is typically used in the context of for and while loops.

Proper Use of Break Statement in Python

The syntax of the

break statement is relatively simple. It is used in a loop and appears on its own line within the loop.

Once Python executes the

break statement, the loop comes to a halt immediately, and the program executes the next statement immediately outside the loop. For example, suppose you have a list of numbers from 1 to 5 and would like to find the first even number in the list and print it out.

The following code does precisely that:


lst = [1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10]

for num in lst:

if num % 2 == 0:

print(“The first even number is: “, num)



In the code above, Python first initialises the list, then iterates over each element of the list. Once Python accesses the fourth element of the list, which is 4, the if statement is triggered.

Since 4 is an even number, the program prints the statement and halts the loop, preventing further iterations.

The Importance of Using the Break Statement Properly


break statement is a powerful element in Python, and it can significantly affect the flow of your code. Consequently, it is important to use it properly to produce intended output from your code.

If you use the

break statement incorrectly, you could create a variety of errors with your code.

For instance, consider the following example code that throws an error.



while x<6:


if x==3:




When running the code above, Python raises an error and returns a SyntaxError message that explicitly states that the

break statement is outside the loop in line four. The error could result in failed execution for entire code blocks, making it almost impossible to identify the source of the error.

How to Fix Errors That Arise Due to the Misuse of Break Statement

In Python, errors are a natural part of programming, however, that does not mean that they are impossible to fix. Here are a few fixes that can be used for the common errors caused by ill-placed

break statements.

1. Exception Handling: A standard approach to handling errors in Python is to use built-in exception handling.

With exception handling, you can account for errors even before the code is run, preventing failure at runtime. 2.

Use sys.exit(): In some cases, it might be best to use the sys.exit() function instead of the

break statement to exit a loop. That is because the

break statement halts only the current loop, but sys.exit() completely exits the program regardless of where it was called.

3. Remove Else Statement: When a

break statement is incorrectly placed in an if-else statement, it may lead to logical errors and runtime problems.

One approach to fixing this error would be to remove the else statement, leaving only the if statement to gracefully exit the loop.


In conclusion, the

break statement is a significant contributor to Python’s control structure that must be incorporated into your code with the utmost accuracy. By using it properly, you can avoid errors and help Python achieve the intended outcomes from your code.

Therefore, as a Python programmer, it is crucial to be familiar with the

break statement, how it works and the errors it may cause when misused. As a best practice, it is recommended to review your code repeatedly before running it to ensure that the

break statement is appropriately placed.

Using Exception or sys.exit() instead of

break statement


break statement is an essential control structure in Python, which allows the loop to terminate early. However, misusing the

break statement can cause undesirable effects in your program.

Fortunately, Python provides us with alternative approaches that we can use to exit a loop early without causing any unintended side effects. In this section, we will discuss how to use Pythons Exception and sys.exit() methods as an alternative to

break statements in various scenarios.

Using Exception instead of

break statement

Pythons Exception method is a built-in function that allows you to interrupt the usual flow of your program and handle errors and other exceptional conditions that may arise while running your code. It provides an alternative method to exit from an if statement or a loop that avoids placing a

break statement.

To use Exception as an alternative to the

break statement, you can raise the exception when the condition is met instead of using the

break statement. For example, consider a scenario where you have a list of random numbers and you would like to terminate the for loop immediately after printing the first even number.

Here is an alternative way to do it using Exception:


lst = [1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10]

for num in lst:

if num % 2 == 0:

print(“The first even number is: “, num)

raise StopIteration


In this code, instead of using the

break statement to end the for loop, we use the StopIteration exception to stop the program execution and raise an exception when a condition is met. Using this approach, we explicitly raise an exception whenever we encounter a scenario that we want to stop execution.

Using sys.exit() instead of

break statement

The sys module in Python provides access to some variables used or maintained by the interpreter and some functions that interact strongly with the interpreter. We can use the sys.exit() method as an alternative way of exiting a loop or ending program execution.

Here is the example of using sys.exit() to stop program execution in the middle of an if statement:


import sys

a = 3

if a<5:

print(“Number is less than 5”)


print(“Program won’t reach here”)


In the code above, the sys.exit() function is called if the condition `a < 5` evaluates to True. This function ends execution of the program immediately, regardless of which block of code is currently running.

Consequently, you can use the sys.exit() method at any point in your code to stop execution.

Removing else statement to avoid error

An if statement is used to control the flow of a program’s execution by testing a condition, and then making a decision based on the condition of true/false. While using if-else statements in loops along with the

break statement, you may encounter several errors.

The placement of

break statements in if-else loops is crucial to the successful execution of your code. Misplacing the

break statement in an if-else loop can cause errors that lead to runtime failure.

To avoid these errors, it is sometimes necessary to remove the else statement and use only the if statement. For example, consider a scenario where you have a list of numbers and would like to output the numbers until the first even number shows up, then exit the function.

If the

break statement is placed in the if/else statement, the code may cause a syntax error, for instance:


lst = [1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9]

for num in lst:

if num % 2 == 0:

print(“The first even number is: “, num)



print(num, end=” “)


In the code above, if the conditional test evaluates to True, the loop will

break, and the else statement will execute. The else statement in the above code block causes syntax errors whenever an even number is not on the list.

To fix this error, you can remove the else statement entirely, leaving only the if statement in the code block. “`

lst = [1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9]

for num in lst:

if num % 2 == 0:

print(“The first even number is: “, num)


print(num, end=” “)



Using the

break statement, Exception, or sys.exit() is an essential aspect of programming in Python. Understanding when and how to use these statements will help you avoid common errors that arise from misusing these control statements.

When used judiciously, Pythons Exception and sys.exit() statements can offer you precise control over your programs execution, while removing the else statement can prevent errors related to misplacement of the

break statement. In conclusion, proper usage of the

break statement, Exception, or sys.exit() are crucial in ensuring a Python program runs smoothly.

Through the examples we have examined, we have seen how the incorrect usage of the

break statement or placement in an if-else statement can lead to syntax errors. We have also discovered how to resolve these issues using Pythons Exception and sys.exit() functions as alternatives.

Removing else statements present another solution to avoid errors related to misplacement of the

break statement. Ultimately, programmers must pay close attention when using control structures to prevent errors and control program flow effectively.